The morning liturgy was led by Rev. Teresa Edwards, associate pastor at Forest Hills UMC. Rev. Edwards invited members to pray in a way that draws us to Christ by sharing in a simple and powerful prayer from scripture: “Be Still and Know That I Am God.”
In the Business Session Wednesday morning, the conference:
The Leadership Forum Task Force gave their third and final report. Bill Hatcher, member of Statesboro First UMC, and Rev. Ben Gosden, pastor of Trinity UMC in Savannah, talked about their experiences on the Task Force as two people with theological differences who were able to learn a lot from each other, even amid their differences. Rev. Doreen Smalls, Southwest District Superintendent, shared about the foundation that was laid to create an environment of collaboration and mutual respect where we can bring John Wesley’s three simple rules to the table. When we truly seek and understand, disagree and not count it against each other, and speak the truth in love, the Three Simple Rules are the result. During the report, Allison Lindsey also shared that South Georgia has an exciting opportunity to be in a mission partnership with Bishop Mande Muyombo and the North Katanga Annual Conference. The conference approved a proposal to use the funds originally collected for the East Africa Annual Conference partnership to now explore this new partnership with the North Katanga Annual Conference.
approved a motion that asked the Bishop to appoint a study of the election practices and policies of other Annual Conferences in the Southeast Jurisdiction to bring recommendations to the 2020 Annual Conference regarding our standing rules on our election policies.
heard a report from the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) given by Mr. Randy Griffin, chair of CFA, and Rev. Robert Beckum, budget chair, and approved a budget of $9,326,184, a reduction of $736,642 from the previous year. This budget is a 7.3% percent decrease from the 2019 budget. Most of the decrease is due to a reduction in the Pre-82 pension apportionment of $350,000 and $400,000 in retiree health care. CFA expressed their appreciation to the Board of Pensions and Health Benefits for their work in paying the pre-82.
approved a motion to study the reason why churches have failed to pay clergy benefits and churches who have paid little or no apportionments.
heard a final John Wesley Moment from Rev. Dave Hanson. John Wesley attended an Annual Conference session, too, and was utterly and completely frustrated. Hours and hours of talking led to no resolution even though both sides thought their arguments valid. “If the people were united to do only that which was good for the Kingdom of God and our witness in the world, the debate might have been determined in five minutes,” Wesley said.
heard an “Alive Together In The World” moment focusing on the global church. The 150th Anniversary of the United Methodist Women was highlighted and a presentation on the work of Global Ministries by Rev. Nora Colmenares, Senior Manager: Global Ministries. Our new Annual Conference theme was unveiled: Alive Together in Witness. It is through our Witness that we are Alive Together In The World!
During Dr. Gil Rendle’s final teaching moment he asked members, “What is your next step to helping people be a disciple?” In this new world, we have to start new conversations, he said, and learn what no one can teach us. In order to do this, we need to go home and try a few things: say something (don’t leave what you learned in Columbus), find your conversation partners, and trust in God’s mystery (be open and willing to the Spirit of God). “Growth is not the purpose of our ministry. Growth is the product of our ministry,” he said. “Let us have the courage to have conversations about the purpose of our ministry that we haven’t had in the past. The gospel of Jesus Christ is unchanged in a world that is changing and changing.”
showed appreciation for the hard work and gracious hospitality of the Northwest District and the Local Arrangements Committee as well as the Conference Worship Committee, Conference Secretary, and all of those who work to put on Annual Conference.
accepted an invitation to hold the 2020 Annual Conference session in Columbus with a start date of June 7, 2020. Dr. James Crosse, member of St. Luke UMC, will serve again as the Chair of Local Arrangements.
Annual Conference 2019 ended with a Service of Sending Forth.
“Let us all draw on each other as resources,” said Bishop Bryan as he highlighted various groups in our conference and their effective, fruitful ministry. “We all have something to contribute.”
Following his message, the names of those receiving a new appointment were read. Click here to view the 2019-2020 Clergy Appointments.
The 2020 Annual Conference Session will be held in Columbus, GA beginning June 7, 2020.